Guggenheim Presents New Works in Film and Sound by Artists based in South Asia
GUGGENHEIM EXHIBITION PRESENTS NEW WORKS IN FILM, VIDEO, AND SOUND BY SEVEN ARTISTS BASED IN SOUTH ASIA
Exhibition: The Deutsche Bank Series at the Guggenheim:
Being Singular Plural
Venue: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
1071 Fifth Avenue, New York
Location: Annex Levels 2, 5, and 7; New Media Theater;
Dates: March 2–June 6, 2012
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(NEW YORK, NY – February 24, 2012) –– The Deutsche Bank Series at the Guggenheim: Being Singular Plural, the first exhibition of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum to focus exclusively on artistic production in South Asia, presents new film, video, and sound-based works by seven of the most innovative and visionary contemporary artists, filmmakers, and media practitioners living and working in India today. This exhibition marks the first time that these artists will be showing work in a North American museum and is assembled as part of the Guggenheim’s global Asian Art Initiative. Being Singular Plural is organized by Sandhini Poddar, Associate Curator, Asian Art, at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and will be on view March 2 through June 6, 2012.
This exhibition is made possible by Deutsche Bank.
The Leadership Committee for Being Singular Plural is gratefully acknowledged.
Expanding on its original 2010 Deutsche Guggenheim presentation, the exhibition presents eight projects dispersed among the museum’s Annex galleries, New Media Theater, and outdoors along the exterior ramp leading from Fifth Avenue down to the Sackler Center for Arts Education. The New York installation continues to focus on researching and co-producing new work with its community of practitioners: Desire Machine Collective (Sonal Jain and Mriganka Madhukaillya), Shumona Goel and Shai Heredia, Amar Kanwar, and Kabir Mohanty and Vikram Joglekar.
According to Ms. Poddar, “This group of artists and filmmakers all draw inspiration from their experiences in South Asia, but a closer reading of their work reveals a transnational context that highlights some of the most significant political events, aesthetic forms, and critical theories defining contemporary culture today. While recent exhibitions of contemporary art from India have celebrated finished works as end products and often contextualized them in light of the country’s economic boom and strong art market, the works in Being Singular Plural assert the quieter principles of practice, process, and perception.”
Philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy’s notion of “being singular plural” provides the exhibition’s structural framework and intellectual scaffolding. Created with a profound recognition of the interconnectedness of all beings, the selected films, videos, and sound installations invite visitors to reassess conventional boundaries between such categories as fact and fiction, art and cinema, the still and moving image, and objectivity and subjectivity. By manipulating sound, image, and text in experimental ways, the artists in Being Singular Plural explore the social possibilities within the technology of these mediums. The works posit new modes of phenomenological and physiological address for the viewer, shifting these positions from passive spectatorship to active participation.
Desire Machine Collective (Sonal Jain and Mriganka Madhukaillya), whose name derives from the philosophical writing of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, seeks to redirect attention toward careful looking, watching, and listening. Jain and Madhukaillya have been working collaboratively since 2004 to examine the roles that moving images play in recording social histories and investigating the limits of these roles. In 2007 they established Periferry 1.0, an ongoing migratory artists’ project using a government-leased ferry docked on the Brahmaputra River in the heart of Guwahati, the duo’s hometown, in northeast India. At the Guggenheim, the collective will install a site-specific interactive sound piece, Trespassers Will (Not) Be Prosecuted (2012), as a round-the-clock public artwork outside the museum inspired by sounds collected in a sacred forest. The exhibition will also include two new moving-image projects by Desire Machine Collective in the Annex galleries: Residue (2011), a 35 mm work filmed in an abandoned power plant on the outskirts of Guwahati, and Nishan (2007– ), a meditative four-channel video installation shot in the city of Srinagar in Kashmir, the contested state that lies on the political fault line between India and Pakistan.
Shumona Goel’s films investigate the stories of people who often go unheard or events that go unwitnessed. For Being Singular Plural, she and co-director Shai Heredia present I am micro (2011), a contemplative, nonlinear 35-mm black-and-white film that mixes a documentary approach with visual poetry to pay tribute to small-scale independent filmmaking and grassroots collaboration. Lyrical tracking shots of obsolete machinery and dismembered cameras in a defunct Kolkata-based company once involved in the design, manufacture, and development of cameras and film equipment is paired with behind-the-scenes footage from the set of an independent fiction film in Mumbai. A stream-of-consciousness voiceover provides ruminations on loss and forgetfulness within Indian cinema, indirectly lending insight into the fragility and isolation of the solitary filmmaker and the hazards and challenges of independent filmmaking. In their ongoing work, Goel and Heredia are committed to excavating and exploring cinematic histories, rethinking conventional techniques, and supporting experimental filmmaking.
Amar Kanwar’s complex films and videos are fragmented narratives of violence, displacement, and resistance told through lyrical images and texts that elicit a compassionate response. Kanwar’s nineteen channel video installation The Torn First Pages (2004–08) indirectly portrays (among other stories) the unbelievable horrors perpetrated by the Burmese junta on its people as well as the lives of Burmese exiles in Norway and the United States. The videos, projected onto several sheets of paper attached to steel armatures, envelop viewers in multiple spatial, emotional, and temporal zones. Kanwar is deeply interested in conflating genres in order to open up new relations and destroy any solitary system of address by adopting multiple venues for display and methodologies for seeing. His films and videos are both acts of political resistance as well as sensitive commemorations of other people’s lives. His Guggenheim presentation will include a reading area where visitors can digitally access a “living archive” of ongoing news footage from Burma gathered since the inception of the Being Singular Plural project in 2009.
Kabir Mohanty also encourages alternative types of visual and auditory experience. Some of his videos are conceived for monitors that fit in the palm of one’s hand while others test the durational limits of attention. For Being Singular Plural, Mohanty designs a diagrammatic space in the museum’s galleries that will be used to screen his epic video Song for an ancient land (2003–12). Combining new and archival footage with complex sound design, the artist pans, inverts, curves, and otherwise deconstructs the material bases of his images in order to reveal the artifice of his construction and the physicality of video as a medium. Mohanty’s approach stems from a filmmaker’s sensibility but moves beyond this traditional framework to develop an innovative vision for video. Together with sound engineer and designer Vikram Joglekar, Mohanty will also present an interactive sound installation titled In Memory (2009/2012), which mixes prerecorded tracks with sound effects generated by museum visitors as they enter a Foley pit as well as exterior noises transmitted live from 89th Street just outside the museum.
The New York presentation of Being Singular Plural will feature a revised and updated catalogue, which includes cross-disciplinary essays by Erika Balsom, Kaushik Bhaumik, Martta Heikkilä, and exhibition curator Sandhini Poddar, who are international specialists in cinema studies, history, aesthetics, and art history, respectively. An extended plate section provides multiple images from the video- and filmmakers’ works, a majority of which have been published for the first time. Artists’ biographies and an annotated reading list offer references for further study. The catalogue is priced at $45 and will be available at guggenheimstore.org
Education and Public Programs
Being Singular Plural will be accompanied by a rich array of public programs, including film screenings, workshops, lectures, and panel discussions with each of the artists in the exhibition.
I am micro
Daily, Mar 2–Jun 6
As part of Being Singular Plural, Shumona Goel and Shai Heredia’s 35 mm film I am micro (2011; 15 min., 46 sec.) is screened in the New Media Theater, Mon–Wed at 11 am, 12 pm, 2 pm, 3 pm, 4 pm, and 5 pm and Fri–Sun at 3 pm, 4 pm, and 5 pm. Free with museum admission.
Song for an ancient land
Daily, Mar 2–Jun 6
As part of Being Singular Plural, Kabir Mohanty’s digital video Song for an ancient land (2003–12; approx. 220 min.) is screened in Annex Level 7, Mon–Wed, Fri, and Sun at 11:30 am and Sat at 11:30 am and 3:30 pm. Free with museum admission.
Eye to Eye: Artist-Led Tours
Fri, Mar 2, 2–4 pm
An interactive tour of Kabir Mohanty and Vikram Joglekar’s sound installation In Memory (2009/2012), with their artistic collaborators Biju Dhanapalan, Clifton D’Souza, and Aziz Kachwala. Reception follows. $20, $15 members (limited to 25 participants per tour). For tickets, visit guggenheim.org/publicprograms or call the Box Office at 212 423 3587.
Lines of Control
Sat, March 3, 4–6 pm, and Sun, March 4, 9 am–5 pm
Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
This two-day academic symposium held in collaboration with the Department of Art History at Cornell University and in conjunction with the exhibition Lines of Control: Partition as a Productive Space at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art focuses on the formative and ongoing dilemmas of the nation-state in the modern and contemporary eras. Speakers include Salah Hassan (Cornell University), Amar Kanwar, Aamir Mufti (University of California at Los Angeles), Sandhini Poddar, and Bhaskar Sarkar (University of California at Santa Barbara), among other notable scholars and artists. For registration and more information, visit museum.cornell.edu.
The Elaine Terner Cooper Education Fund: Conversation with Contemporary Artists
Tues, Mar 6, 6:30 pm
Amar Kanwar, whose work The Torn First Pages (2004–08) from the Guggenheim Museum’s collection is on view in the exhibition, leads a conversation. Reception follows. $10, $7 members, free for students with RSVP. For tickets, visit guggenheim.org/publicprograms or call the Box Office at 212 423 3587.
Q&A with I am micro filmmakers
Wed, Mar 7, 12:20 pm
Following the 12 pm screening, filmmakers Shumona Goel and Shai Heredia answer questions from the audience. Free with museum admission.
Public Studio with Desire Machine Collective
In residence: Mar 2–24
Public program: Tues, Mar 20, 6:30 pm
A three-week residency with Sonal Jain and Mriganka Madhukaillya involving the development of new work culminates in a public program dedicated to conversations on technology, ecology, and artistic collaboration involving the artists’ moving-image work, open studios, and ongoing dialogue on the philosophic condition. For tickets, visit guggenheim.org/publicprograms or call the Box Office at 212 423 3587.
The Deutsche Bank Series at the Guggenheim
Being Singular Plural is the fourth exhibition in the Deutsche Bank Series at the Guggenheim, which is dedicated to exhibiting works of art commissioned jointly by Deutsche Bank and the Guggenheim Foundation as well as other thematic exhibitions at the Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York.
In 1997 the Guggenheim Foundation and Deutsche Bank opened the Deutsche Guggenheim and launched a unique and ambitious program of contemporary-art commissions. This collaboration has enabled the Guggenheim Foundation to act as a catalyst for artistic production. The Deutsche Guggenheim was conceived as a partnership and consists of three main objectives: the presentation of thematic exhibitions that recognize artists who have contributed significantly to the development of art; the presentation of works from the Deutsche Bank Collection; and the commissioning of site-specific works by both emerging and established artists.
About the Asian Art Initiative
In 2006, the Guggenheim Museum became the first international modern and contemporary art museum in the West to establish a curatorial position for Asian art. Being Singular Plural represents the fifth exhibition in New York to be realized under the curatorial direction of the Asian Art Initiative, following the award-winning Cai Guo-Qiang: I Want to Believe (2008), The Third Mind: American Artists Contemplate Asia, 1860–1989 (2009), The Deutsche Bank Series at the Guggenheim: Anish Kapoor: Memory (2009), and Lee Ufan: Marking Infinity (2011). Central to the museum’s Asian-art activities is the Asian Art Council, a group of museum directors, scholars, curators, and artists formed in 2007 that serves as a curatorial think tank, mapping the intellectual course of modern and contemporary Asian art and debating key issues pertinent to its curatorial practice.
About the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation
Founded in 1937, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation is dedicated to promoting the understanding and appreciation of art, primarily of the modern and contemporary periods, through exhibitions, education programs, research initiatives, and publications. Currently the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation owns and operates the Guggenheim Museum on Fifth Avenue in New York and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection on the Grand Canal in Venice, and provides programming and management for the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. The Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin is the result of a collaboration, begun in 1997, between the Guggenheim Foundation and Deutsche Bank. The Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, a museum of modern and contemporary art designed by Frank Gehry on Saadiyat Island, adjacent to the main island of Abu Dhabi city, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, is currently in progress. More information about the foundation can be found at guggenheim.org.
Admission: Adults $18, students/seniors (65+) $15, members and children under 12 free. Admission includes an audio tour of Being Singular Plural and of the concurrent exhibition John Chamberlain: Choices in English and an audio tour with highlights of the Guggenheim’s permanent collection and of the building, available in English, Spanish, French, German, and Italian.
Museum Hours: Sun–Wed, 10 am–5:45 pm; Fri, 10 am–5:45 pm; Sat, 10 am–7:45 pm; closed Thurs. On Saturdays, beginning at 5:45 pm, the museum hosts Pay What You Wish. For general information call 212 423 3500 or visit the museum online at:
For publicity images go to guggenheim.org/pressimages
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February 24, 2012
(Updated from January 23, 2012)
FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION CONTACT
Lauren Van Natten, Associate Director, Media and Public Relations
Samantha Weiss, Media and Public Relations Associate
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
212 423 3840